List of articles
From the book The Nature of Substance: Spirit and Matter by Dr Hauschka
The Mineral Cross
We saw … previously… that lime and silica are opposite poles of the cosmos, with aluminium and phosphorus, a second polar pair, engaged in a harmonising pendulum-swing between the first pair. It would be possible to explore many more aspects of this relationship than there is space for here. The indications given…, however, may perhaps serve to illustrate clearly the harmonious interplay of these four substances, particularly in the field of physiology.
The aluminium and phosphorus processes work, as we have seen, in blood and nerves, linking silica and lime, the skin and skeleton. Blood is the plastic element that builds and maintains the body tissue, whereas nerves transmit the formative forces that take over the plastic material provided by the blood and give it the shape of muscles and organs. The phosphorus process active here is like a sculptor’s hand, with its sensitive touch for shaping plastic clay.
Aluminium and phosphorus, then, are a polarity midway between the polar opposites lime and silica. The macrocosmic processes that create these four substances spring from four cosmic points of origin which form a cross: Aries - Libra / Capricorn - Cancer. Just as we found the four substances: hydrogen - oxygen / nitrogen - carbon falling into the pattern of an ‘atmospheric cross’ which pointed to the cosmic sources of protein and of all organic nature, there is a similar comprehensive significance in the cross formed by silica - lime / aluminium - phosphorus.
It can easily be shown that the whole mineral earth is really built in the main of these four substances. Organic creation with its flowers, trees and grasses, its butterflies, beetles and other creatures is as it were a panorama of fleeting images that seem to emerge out of the atmosphere, take on material form, and just as quickly melt away again. Mineral nature, with its mountain ridges, its plains and valleys, is by contrast the stable, solid core of this passing show. Or perhaps we should say, relatively stable; for it too came into being out of the great reaches of the universe, and will one day dissolve back into it.
Previously … we related the atmospheric cross formed by hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon to the four Aristotelian elements: fire, air, water, earth. This fourfold principle, in which earth’s evolutionary phases can be recognised, is so fundamental that we may expect to find it again in the mineral cross. Disregarding for the moment the natural, earthly state of these minerals and considering them purely as principles, or processes, we do indeed find the four Aristotelian elements reflected in them. The relationship of the highly inflammable phosphorus to fire is immediately obvious. Then there is the silica process with its affinity to lightness and buoyancy, exemplified in the flight of birds and the spherical tendency inherent in the formative forces of the macrocosm; here we discern a relationship to light and air. Aluminium, which has so strong a proclivity to the plastics to the levelling, flowing liquid element, leaves no doubt where it belongs. And the statics of lime clearly shows its relation to the earthy element.
To sum up these conclusions:
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The report on the Gospel Study in the October newsletter introduced the study of a Christian eight-fold path that will be discovered in the Gospel of Luke from chapter 4 onward, after the Temptation in the desert. This month focused on chapters 2 and 3 of Luke’s Gospel.
These chapters in themselves are interesting as the story they tell is unique to Luke’s Gospel. There are three angels only in all of Christian scripture whose names are revealed. In the Book of Tobit (relegated to the Apocrypha by Protestant churches) the angel Raphael is named. The angel Michael is named in the Old Testament and in the Book of Revelation, and Luke names the angel Gabriel. Other angels appear in scripture but they are not given a name. Raphael identifies himself as one of the seven great angels who attend the court of God.
The first chapters of Luke were written in the tradition of the Old Testament. There is a lot written about the fulfilment of the law in the course of the events described. The Song of Praise by Mary is very reminiscent of the Song of Hannah in the first Book of Samuel. Luke’s story speaks of the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament in two births: the birth of John as the great prophet and the birth of Jesus as the bearer of the Christ. When we encounter Holy Spirit in Luke’s Gospel the Greek is written without a definite article. Holy Spirit is thus an aspect of the Divine.
Light is a strong theme in Luke’s Gospel. A full revelation in light, is to become enlightened. Up to that point in time the greatest example of enlightenment had been the Buddha. With the birth of Jesus a new world begins that exists beyond the enlightenment of the Buddha. Thus we can experience the lights that appear in the heavens around the angel who announces the birth to the shepherds as the light that has led up to the enlightenment of the Buddha. We read that his birth is the birth of the one who can make the human being whole.
Luke is the only Gospel writer who writes about the presentation of the baby in the temple and the encounter with Simeon and Anna the Prophetess. The encounter with Simeon was a private encounter and he spoke his praise and words of foresight to Mary and Joseph. Anna, in contrast, spoke her words to all who were willing to hear. This is representative of the duality encountered in Luke’s Gospel.
Luke alone says anything about the twelve year old Jesus accompanying his parents to Jerusalem at the age of his bar mitzvah. The description given by Luke makes it clear that something extraordinary occurred while they were in Jerusalem. We discussed in detail the insight that Rudolf Steiner was able to shed on this and that this insight had already existed in Christian traditions.
Luke presents the genealogy of Jesus only after the baptism in the River Jordan, unlike Matthew who presents it as the precursor to the birth of Jesus. A study of the genealogies reveals that from King David to Joseph these lines of descent are very different. Luke describes his genealogy from Jesus going backwards to Adam. This contrasts with Matthew who starts at Abraham and is interested in whom each father brings into life, as a son. The tradition related to the Gospel of Luke is that Jesus bears a relationship to Adam and this tradition is rooted in the traditions of a Twin, which was the constellation to which the earth’s axis was directed at the time that humanity became conscious. This tradition is that Adam had a twin (humanity had a twin) Adam was the earthly twin, the twin who ventured onto the path of earthly incarnations while the other twin remained in the spiritual world (an aspect of humanity that did not undergo earthly incarnations). It was the twin of Adam who was represented in the birth of Jesus. It was this innocence that became wise at the age of twelve that shocked his parents.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
How do we even begin to think about the future or what we should be doing to carry the impulse of The Christian Community into the next one hundred years? The answer is quite simple: the impulse must live and be alive in the people for whom it matters.
A small group gathered on Friday evening 30 September at 18h00, an hour earlier than the original plan in order to avoid sitting in the dark during load shedding. The message sent out to the community was that this would be a participative conference and would consist of conversations and discussions. Those gathered felt both a weight of responsibility and a sense of doubt that anything they had to say would impact the future of The Christian Community.
Rev. Michaël Merle introduced the conference with a picture given by Dr Rudolf Steiner on several occasions, but, for Michaël, memorably to the teachers. At every moment in our lives we stand in the present moment. This present moment is not a point in time or space, nor a straight line. It is a line of uncertain shape or width that has brought us here and will take us forward into the next moment. We have a past that brought us to this moment in time. We often spend time reflecting in the past rather than living in the present. We cannot change our past and yet we can allow it to have a great influence over our present. Alternatively, we may worry about our future. We have an idea, or a plan for our future, but because we have not yet realised this image or plan we worry that it will not work out as we have planned. The only time when we have real influence is right now, in the present moment.
Rudolf Steiner made it clear that we need to develop a feeling for the present moment in order to be present to it. We think back on our past. It is our activity that creates the seeds for the future. When we have clarity in the thinking of our past we create an image of our past; we could say our past becomes an imagination. When we can sense the future with clarity we can develop an intuition for the future. Our feeling can inspire us in the present moment.
The purpose of thinking back on our past, thereby creating an imagination, and for intuiting the future, is to cross over the thresholds of birth and death, remembering back to before birth and intuiting the future after death.
This picture took us to an exercise. In groups, we listed what we felt were the building blocks of The Christian Community. This is what the founding of The Christian Community and the pioneering work of the first one hundred years have laid as a foundation. Much to Michaël’s joy the final list was very similar to what the pioneering priests and subsequent priests have listed.
The word “seeking” arose from the discussion and was added to the list. Knowing that this list lives actively in us means that we are able to describe The Christian Community to others. We are a community in search of something and in search of continually finding it. We know what it is and where to seek it and thus we are always in the process of discovering it. We are always in the seeking to strengthen our connection to it.
When we hear the Gospel proclaimed from the altar we may be struck that the words attributed to Jesus Christ are spoken in the present continuous tense. The words of Christ may have been recorded almost two thousand years ago but when they are proclaimed they are spoken as the words of Christ in the present moment.
Thus, the next exercise was to find the very first words spoken by Jesus in each of the Gospels.
The last exercise and conversation was to find the intuition for the future. For this, certain words from the words of Jesus were underlined and others were circled. The underlined words were grouped, and the circled words were grouped. We were asked to find the connection within the groups and between the groups.
These words are seek, follow me, look, see, fulfil, come – related to action – all 'in my Father’s house’. The earth is the Father’s house. Our body has become the Father’s house. Or as St Paul puts it, the house has become a temple of the Holy Spirit. We will find Christ in the world and also ‘in me’. We will never be without Christ even though we will continue to seek and look for the rest of our lives. We know where Christ is, there is no uncertainty, but the condition of seeking is still unending. The power of our willing to act (future intuition) springs from feeling (present inspiration) – see again the diagram above. Our thinking to make sense of all that has been “lives in the life of the Holy Spirit”, not in the life of the Father (past) but in the life that brings us to the future.
What is a desire of every human being in every life? It is the desire to be to achieve fullness or perfection. Christ is the example to humanity of what perfection is.
What sentences speak to an intuition that may arise for the future of The Christian Community from the two lists of words?
We are in a moment of creating.
Destiny is the evolution of humanity.
Seek the Power of Christ in the destiny of The Christian Community.
Come into the power of your destiny to understand.
Ennobling the earth through human destiny.
Uniting with the earth’s evolving is unique to The Christian Community.
Reverence for Life as a foundation of The Christian Community.
The Christian Community is consequent. It is real.
We always find ourselves in the presence of the moment for a future.
The reason for underling “fulfilled” and “fulfil” is that the Act of Consecration begins with the words: “Let us worthily fulfil …” One might have started the sacrament with other words but using the word “fulfil” means that we participate in what is about to come into being; it does not happen without our participation. It also means that the sacrament will be filled with the content of what we bring to this celebration.
The words that are circled are words of the Archangel Michael: “come” – the invitation, “power” and “destiny”.
In his talk on the Sunday of the Michaelmas Conference, Michaël introduced the picture of Three Archangels with Tobias by Francesco Botticini.
(Michaël gave a talk on this painting in September 2015, click here).
This picture reflects the last diagram above in another form. What is presented is how we live in three states of time: past, present and future. We live in all three; the present is the future realised, which immediately passes to become our past and we step into our future which becomes the present moment. The three angels mentioned by name in Christian scriptures are present: Gabriel on the right, Raphael in the middle leading Tobias, and Michael on the left. They are presented in the order where Raphael is in the present moment with Tobias and is leading him into the future – a very Michaelic stance – and being supported by the past through Gabriel, the Archangel who announced the births. The painting seems to place Michael in front with Gabriel bringing up the rear while in fact the four are all walking abreast. Tobias is thus always in his past and in his present and in his future. There isn’t a leading angel or a trailing angel, they are all together. Imagination, inspiration and intuition are all together. These Archangels equally represent our thinking, our feeling and our willing. The qualities of the human being are seen accompanied by mighty angelic forces.
In this time of Michael the impulse is to find and recognise the seeds that are growing which are potentially going to unfold.
In the course of the conference, one of the things that was noted is that there is a turning point in our Creed. The first part of the Creed is about the past, the things that have been. Until we reach the point where the Christ is able to achieve something, “after three days” – the overcoming of death. There is a natural pause at this point. The next sentence begins with “Since that time …” Since then ... and now ... and into the future … The tense changes and becomes present and continuous. “Through Him the Healing can the healing Spirit work", present and future. Later, “Communities who feel themselves …” present tense, not inherited communities but present communities who are and who are becoming. We can sense ourselves as being here for the very first time, in this constellation creating The Christian Community. We are being and creating the unfolding of The Christian Community.
When we look at our festivals we have the festivals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany at the beginning of the liturgical year. These are festivals of the past, festivals of the Father. Then we engage in the active festivals of the Son that create the conditions that change everything: Passiontide, Easter and Ascension. Then we enter into the last three festivals of the year: Whitsun, St Johns and Michaelmas. There are festivals of the Spirit, festivals of the future. We do something quite extraordinary in The Christian Community compared to the liturgy of other Christian groups; we turn St Johns and Michaelmas into long seasons of celebration because they open up for us our stepping into the future, particularly Michaelmas, where we have extraordinary colours. Where do the pale peach pink and pale green colours appear from? They are the Easter colours with white – the paint quality of light – added. The red and deep green of Easter becomes the beautiful light peach blossom and pale green. The hope and the spring opening to a future in light, and light, and light. This is the quality that we are looking for. In the next 100 years we must find our Michaelic quality all the more and live in it all the more and be present in it all the more.
This is the essence that we hoped to discover in this Michaelmas Conference that recognise that we are already in our second century of existence.
In a mini-sermon given to the children, Michaël shared the four symbols that Michael is often seen carrying. These are the two-edged sword of truth, the scales of balance, the sceptre of uprightness which is the “I”, and an orb of wholeness. The orb is often of pure translucent crystal. The word wholeness is connected with healing. We speak of the Spirit that makes whole in the Act of Consecration of Man – holy, making whole and healing are aspects of the same reality. Michael represents truth, balance, uprightness and wholeness, which are the qualities we need as adults to recognise the Christ in us and in the other.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Rev. Michaël Merle is presenting three workshops that help us gain a new perspective on our world. Two of the workshops have been completed: one in which we viewed the world as a whole and the second that focused on Africa east of the Rift Valley. What follows is a very brief overview with no attempt to capture the richness of the depth of information uncovered during the workshops.
In the first workshop the first observation was to look at a map of the world and to compare, in each case two parts of the world, one that is near the equator and one that is nearer a pole. In each case, the two countries looked about the same size. However, in each case, the country near the equator covers a much larger area than the one nearer the pole. The reason for this is that cartographers need to project a spherical globe onto a flat sheet of paper. In order to do this something must stretch. Often the lands nearer to the poles are stretched to look much larger than they actually are. This suited European cartographers as it makes Europe look much larger and more dominant than it really is.
We studied different map projections that attempt to show each continent or land mass in its correct size. There are different ways of getting closer to an accurate projection of the round earth onto paper.
The next observation was to look at a good projection and compare oceans to continents. One quickly realises that there is much more ocean than there is earth. Truly this planet should be called water, not earth. But, we human beings, live on the land and therefore refer to this planet as Earth not Water.
Next, we observed the part of the earth where the sun is directly overhead at some point in the year. This is a band that stretched north and south of the equator to the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere.
Then we looked at the vegetation types that occur in Africa and in South America. The image we looked at brought South America nearer to Africa. What showed up was that the vegetation types seem to form concentric circles with equatorial forests in the centre surrounded by savanna grasslands, then deserts and finally alpine mountain vegetation in a ring around the edge. This clearly showed how Africa and South America were once part of one landmass.
Finally, we looked at the effect that distance from the equator has. In this case we looked at the markings on zebra species which occur in Africa. These range from the donkey in the north to the Burchell’s Quagga (now extinct) in the south. Most noticeable is how the stripes fade away as the species move away from the equator.
The second workshop was a focus on a part of Africa that lies to the east of the Rift Valley. The Rift Valley can be traced from the Jordan Valley in Israel through Africa, where the great lakes lie in the depths of the rift, to Mozambique, near Maputo. We looked at an animal, a tree and a mineral that has its origins in the strip of land east of the Rift Valley.
The animal we studied was the giraffe. It is an animal with extremely long front legs. The heel bone is a metre above the hoof. It is the only animal where both genders have antlers; we looked at what this means. The giraffe is an ‘air walker’; it has not fully landed on the earth. (The occurrence of giraffe species on the western side of the African continent is because they migrated from their place of origin, across the continent.)
The tree we studied is a most unusual tree, the baobab tree. This is a night flowering tree fertilised by bats. One of the earliest angiosperm species. The tree trunks are made of a fibrous structure that is held up by the water that is stored in the trunk. They are able to live to great ages, the oldest known specimen was 2 500 years old when it died. These trees are air and water and do not fully belong yet to earth. There are six species in Madagascar, one species in Africa, and one species in the Kimberley of Australia, a piece of the African continent that drifted across to collide with Australia. These trees arose only after the continents had drifted apart. There is something about the life forces in the land that was once joined, that expresses in similar types of living beings.
The mineral that is unique to East Africa is the Liddicoatite Tourmaline, which, when cut into thin sections reveals an incredible inner structure that changes along the length of a crystal from a Y to a triangle and back again. The three-fold internal structure, supported by the crystal structure of tourmalines, reminds us of the earliest of flowering plants, monocotyledonous plants (orchids, grasses and lilies, among many others) that have a three-fold symmetry. The outside of the tourmaline often appears to be five sided, which is the symmetry of the later-arising dicotyledonous plants. The tourmaline thus presents us with the five-fold human being as an external expression hiding the three-fold Trinity within.
List of articles
From the book The Nature of Substance: Spirit and Matter by Dr Hauschka
Aluminium and Phosphorus
Clay is plastic and responsive to formative forces working on it from outside. Just as a musical instrument responds to a musician so plastic clay is the instrument for the music of forms composed by a sculptor.
It is the aluminium process that makes earth receptive to the cosmic shaping forces of the silica process which the great artist, Nature, draws from the cosmic periphery. Silica’s affinity to water appears again here in relationship to clay, for it is only when clay is properly moist that it is sufficiently plastic to be receptive to the shaping activity of silica.
But the formed clay becomes static in the drying process, while firing makes it almost indistinguishable from lime. Pieces of sculpture, pottery and bricks are all rendered hard, dry and porous in the kiln (pottery is given a skin of silica in the process called glazing). The lime in mortar holds together the bricks in the house-walls which shelter and support our physical life. Again we see aluminium-bearing clay as the balancing agent between silica and lime.
Of course, there are latent polarities in clay. In itself it is the least aristocratic substance; the forms built of it are the most transitory. This is expressed in the Biblical picture of man’s transitory physical body formed of clay. We might say, borrowing this picture, that man is built from head to toe out of such a balancing of heavenly and earthly forces as clay affords. But this ‘clay’ undergoes a stage by stage upward purifying as man refines it in his various organs, reaching a peak in the eye’s transparency; here dark earthly matter has been raised to a level where it becomes permeable by the light of spirit.
Clay thus serves also as a gemstone matrix. Gems are the highest stage of mineral matter, perfect expressions of the harmonious interplay of lime and silica, of earthly anchoring and cosmic shaping. Almost every kind of precious stone is made of aluminium oxide or of a compound of aluminium. The family of corunds, rubies, sapphires, consists of pure aluminium oxide. Other gems, such as tourmalines, emeralds, topazes, zircons, contain aluminium compounds.
In precious stones, aluminium lends itself wholly to silica’s cosmic shaping forces; in brick it is given off both to dry, static earthly force of lime.
Putting a ruby, with its brilliant red, beside a soft blue sapphire brings home the fact that jewels are a synthesis of polarities at the very highest level of which matter is capable.
There is a wonderful gemstone that combines two polar colours in each single crystal. This is the tourmaline, with its complementary green and purple (sometimes pink).
Turning to the human being, whose physiology lies between skin and skeleton, silica and lime, we find an element which as the carrier of physiological processes moves in ceaseless rhythm between polar opposites. This is the blood, which streams out to the periphery of the body and then returns to its innermost core. As it moves toward the skin and the extremities, blood is red; on its return journeys blue. The heart is like a jewelled expression of this active synthesis. Its beating is a rhythmic harmonising of these poles.
How understandable it seems in the light of these facts to apply aluminium (in the form of aluminium acetate or clay poultices) in treating congestions inflammations, sprains and bruises. Felspar (orthoclase) externally applied, also helps to harmonise heart action.
In contrast to clay, phosphorus (or phosphate rock) is thinly scattered through the earth’s crust, like spices in a cake, instead of filling up whole regions, valleys and basins. Rarely are phosphate deposits sufficiently concentrated to make mining them worth while. This mineral, found chiefly in the form of calcium phosphate or apatite is much sought after by manufacturers of superphosphate a well-known artificial fertiliser.
But phosphorus is everywhere in minute quantities. Humus derives it from decaying plants and plant-ash has it in considerable amounts. Where dead plant-matter piles up in layer on layers in swamps or on moorlands, decomposition releases an organic compound in the form of phosphene: PH3.
Reported by John-Peter Gernaat
This talk delivered on Sunday 18 September 2022 was structured into four segments.
Each segment will consider one of the reasons that Jehovah’s Witnesses present for not celebrating birthdays and offer the possibility to reflect on them and see another perspective. In this talk we hope to discover our religious, spiritual, human reason for celebrating a birthday. We will also look at how this has been expressed differently over the centuries.
Birthday celebrations have pagan roots, they predate Christianity:
It is difficult to know when the human being, in their culture, began marking a particular day in the span of a year, whether that culture used a lunar or a solar determination for the duration of a year, but we have early records of human cultures marking transitions in life. The transition into adulthood has been an important celebration for many early cultures. These celebrations were marked with an initiation into a new way of being within the social entity of the family, tribe or clan. The rituals in time often became religious in nature. In other words, these initiations marked a reconnection to one’s source. Thus, we know that human beings have in some way marked the passage of time in the life of the individual for a very long time.
If we look at one early culture, the Sumerian culture, they marked birthdays, not by noting the position of the sun, but by recording the position of the constellations in the night sky. They recognised the Cosmic Script in the stars of the night sky and, for them, they felt that the connection of the human being to the cosmic picture could be determined in the night sky. The Sumerians identified each constellation with a particular aspect of the Divine and therefore, they thought, that being born under a particular constellation gifted qualities of that Divinity to the human being. They recognised the return of the constellations to the same pattern as that of one’s birth and celebrated that. Because the movement of the fixed stars in relation to the earth is the result of the earth revolving around the sun, the return of stellar patterns marked one complete revolution around the sun and therefore one solar year. The Sumerians recognised the cycles of time and celebrated these cycles of time. It enabled them to connect these cycles of passing time with stages in the maturity of the individual human being. Thus, the celebration of birthdays certain traces back to the Sumerian culture as does the connection to the astrological picture of one’s birth.
Christianity Christianised the worldview of the time and the whole world in this sense became Christian. It its therefore not necessary to reject that which predates Christianity. Christianity used the Hellenistic worldview to understand its new way of being and in that transformed the worldview into a Christian view. We can recognise this in the writings of St Paul. He was a Greek thinker and trained in Greek philosophy. He used the training and knowledge found in Greek thought to expound the Christian understanding, thereby making it accessible to Greek thinking and Greek philosophy. Some theological historians believe that Christianity was Hellenised, but it is more appropriate to recognise that Hellenism was Christianised. The substance of Greek thinking was changed by the new experience of being human – the experience of an indwelling Christ.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses recognise correctly that early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. The early Christians felt more strongly that their birth into the Christian faith overshadowed the importance of the day of their birth into the earthly world. Thus, they celebrated the day of their baptism and did so by remembering the anniversary of that day annually. The early Christian recognised that birthing is not a once-off event, but that it happens throughout our lives. It is for this reason that many people celebrate other anniversaries, such as weddings and more significantly a spiritual event such as an ordination. Anything that creates a shift in one’s life is noted and remembered in celebration in the annual cycle of time.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there is only one day worthy of commemoration for Christians and this is the day of the death of Jesus:
Christianity does commemorate the death of Jesus; but the central celebration is the Resurrection of the Christ. That is the celebration of Easter. This is the New Birth of Jesus. Every Sunday becomes a representation of Easter Sunday; in fact, every day is Easter Sunday. Every morning when we awaken we celebrate living in the times of Resurrection. To that extent Easter is a birth and not a death. This birth was all important to early Christians. It is for this reason that the Christian Church – the Catholic Church at the time – remembered the birth of people into the spiritual world. This is especially true for the Saints. The name day for the Saints is the day of their death, or rather their birth as saints into the spiritual world. The tradition grew in Christianity to celebrate, not one’s birthday, but the day of the saint after whom one was named. Christians were given Christian names, the name of someone who had given their life to Christ. The name day was the day on which gifts were given to children, rather than on their birthday. In the traditional Christian calendar only three birthdays are recognised: the birth of Jesus (Christmas day), the birth of John the Baptist (24 June), and the birth of Mary the Mother of Jesus was given a celebratory day (8 September). The birthday of Mary in the Christian tradition is, however, not nearly as important as the day of her Assumption (Western Catholic Church) / Dormition (Eastern Orthodox Church). This was the day of Mary’s birth into the spiritual world. Thus, birthdays were significant for early Christians. Every death has a birth on the other side and every birth has a death in our memory of where we come from. This death of the memory of our origin is important because we need to establish a new connection to the spiritual world through our newly discovered conscious relationship to the spiritual world. Our connection to the spiritual world should therefore be a newfound connection and not merely a remembering.
We note in Christianity the tradition of the importance of birth because birth has something to do with destiny. We are born to fulfil something that was determined before birth. Therefore, the birth is significant. There can be no Baptism in the Jordan without a birth at Christmas. They are both related to the same reality – being born onto the earth in order to be born to one’s destiny. The first celebration of the early Christian Church, besides Easter, was the Baptism in the Jordan – the birth of Christ into the being of Jesus of Nazareth. Only later did the birth of Jesus become a celebration. Thus Easter – new life in the spirit – and then the Baptism – Christ’s birth onto a human being – signify the importance of birthdays to the early Christians and also the significance of their baptism, their birth into Christianity. Every day is a birthday, a day of new birth into life on earth, until the day arrives where we are born back into the spirit.
The final reason for Jehovah’s Witnesses not celebrating birthdays is that the bible does not refer to a servant of God celebrating a birthday. Two birthdays are described that have negative consequences. One is the birthday celebration that leads to the beheading of John the Baptist. However, it is important to note that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke both recognise the birth of Jesus, and Luke also the birth of John the Baptist. These births are both noted with celebration in the description in the Gospels: in Matthew the birth of Jesus is celebrated with the appearance of a Star and the Magi beginning a journey, and in Luke the birth is celebrated with the appearance of heavenly luminaries to the shepherds. The eighth day with the presentation and circumcision, the day of the birth of a boy into the Covenant of Judaism, are also recognised.
The consciousness we must carry is to understand what it is that we are celebrating. This is where we go back to the ancient Sumerian picture. For them the human being born at a particular moment according to the constellations was a reflection of the cosmos. They were celebrating that here in this person, and here in that person, were tiny reflections of the great cosmic picture. We come to recognise that our birthday is also the birth of the world in us, we carry the cosmic picture in us, not just the cosmic picture of the night on which we were born, but the whole of the cosmos, the macrocosm expressed in the microcosm. We are small depictions of the great and mighty cosmic script. When celebrating a birthday, we are not so much celebrating the past, we are celebrating the future. We are celebrating the unfolding of the cosmic picture; the taking of the next step. A birthday celebrates that we are somewhere on the journey, it does not mark the end of the journey, it marks a conscious moment so that the journey can continue. That is the point of a Christian birthday, not to mark what was, it is to mark what is to come. It is to mark what can unfold because the individual has a foundation made up of the years that have passed. Birthday celebrations should not be celebrations of the past but celebrations of the future. A new cycle can begin! That is what becomes significant to celebrate a birthday as a Christian.
We can take what was a non-Christian tradition and understand its desire to link to what Christianity does bring us: resurrection, new life, new beginning, new hope, new step, new stage. We are not celebrating the old, we are celebrating the new. A birthday marks possibility. It also allows us to reflect for a moment on why we are here, what it is that we still have to do, what can we do now that we could not do before, what can we do that is new, how we can overcome that which has not been working for us in our lives. We can therefore enter into a time of preparation for each celebration.
We mark ways in which we recognise new ways of being. These are all births (baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage, ordination) and it is important to mark them for ourselves. We can say: “Yes, I am on a journey, and yes, I know what it means to take new step.” That is the essence of birthdays in a Christian way, being conscious of our future.
From William Wordsworth; Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by Lola Kirigin
While the taste of the bitter-sweet funeral service lingers on, another farewell wave from the departure lounge is here given.
His zest for life, with all its pleasures was not limited to his self-indulgent gourmet pallet, albeit extravagant. If his stories were exaggerated, his deeds were even more so.
George’s involvement and generosity, during the building renovation work of the cottage-home which was to become his last, and where Rev. Hugh Thornton was first able to move into followed by Rev. Malcolm Allsop and Christine.
The food passion and cooking style being quite labour intensive, requires much planning and preparation, increasing manifold when catering for many people. This happened repeatedly and on many varied occasions at The Christian Community, from welcoming new or visiting priests into the community, to special events and conferences, he was once addressed as the “Godfather of the African Seminary”. The signature desserts - the appearance of the Pavlova ablaze with an abundance of berries, for an evening New Year’s celebration was his customary contribution gesture of Joy.
He stretched his capacities to the limits, even when he was in and out of hospitals and very debilitated with pain and in his movement. His last advent Fair and the lunch menu of “The Greek Meal” fund-raising event, were incredible. The scale of what he managed to produce, with the help of others, including his carers, no doubt, was nothing short of a miracle, when, with the additional stress of load shedding and the longest time of power cuts ruined much of the carefully prepared filo pastry delicacies. He shared afterwards, how much effort that took, and we laughed about the fact that in most Greek kitchens, as well as restaurants, there is usually a Greek grandmother hiding there, cooking from morning till night, otherwise how would it be possible to do all that, on a regular basis, without becoming a slave to the kitchen.
You had to forgive the jokes in “bad-taste”. He once fibbed, that he had prepared a fish head and miso soup, for a fundraiser meal-sharing event. I naively believed him, in my eagerness to try it, only to realise he was just kidding.
On another community meal-sharing event, he became annoyed with the person who, had remarked on the missing salad dressing, to accompany a meal I had prepared. After giving them a piece of “The George treatment”, that person became remarkably humbled rather than offended, which surprised me.One of his favourite movies, “Babette’s Feast” is a poignant example of what he admired and himself achieved by this art of communal cuisine and nourishment.
Even though he was regarded affectionately by so many, and appeared to be gregarious, he also admitted a difficulty in fathoming people and relationships. He took solace in the more reliable world of gardening. Herbs and greens which appeared in countless community salads and the flowering plants which would not disappoint him, when carefully tended.
I have one such treasure from many years ago which was given to me, by Reingard, after a particularly intensive advent fair event. This pot plant has blossomed every year since, in springtime and unfolds in full bloom at advent time.
In the words of the social verse….
George, your virtues have LIVED, LOVED and continue on, in THIS COMMUNITY !
List of articles
Follow us on Twitter. We put reminders of events and notices on Twitter.
2021 - January to December
2020 - January to December
2019 - January to December
2018 - January to December
2017 - January to December
2016 - January to December
2015 - January to December
2014 - November & December
2013 - July to December
2013 - January to June
2012 - April to December
Send us your photos of community events.
Articles (prefaced by month number)